The first-ever "State of NCO Development Town Hall" went so well that the senior enlisted soldier for Training and Doctrine Command plans to host three more such meetings to answer questions from the force.
During the two-hour session March 3, senior enlisted leaders from TRADOC, the Army National Guard and Army Reserve took questions from soldiers on issues such as professional military education, promotions and even whether drill sergeants will be put back into advanced individual training.
"I think there's a lot going on right now in our Army, a lot of change," Command Sgt. Maj. David Davenport, the top enlisted soldier for TRADOC, said about why he wants to host these sessions.
The town halls are a good way to make sure soldiers know what's going on and what changes are coming, Davenport said. It also is a good place to solicit soldier feedback, he said.
"We have the opportunity to set up NCO professional development for the next 40 to 50 years," Davenport said. "I think it's important that there's an understanding of the direction we're heading, and I don't have the exclusive rights to good ideas."
Because the town hall was such a success, Davenport plans to have at least three more, one each quarter.
He also intends to narrow the focus of each subsequent town hall so he can better answer soldier questions.
The next town hall will be in late May; a date has not been set. It will focus on development, and Davenport will be joined by experts from the Combined Arms Centers, Army University and other organizations.
The fall town hall — in August or September — will highlight talent management and feature experts from Human Resources Command.
The final town hall, being planned now, will likely be in November or December and cover the Army profession, Davenport said.
A group of NCOs and policy experts answer questions posed during TRADOC's NCO development town hall March 3.
Photo Credit: Jonathan Koester/NCO Journal
During the March 3 town hall, 3,500 to 5,000 people in 18 countries tuned in to the live stream from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. In addition, more than 3,000 people signed in to the live streaming chat box to engage with TRADOC experts.
At the end of the night, the chat box had more than 1,213 questions and comments; TRADOC estimates that its experts were asked more than 500 questions about NCO development.
On social media, the event hashtag #talk2TRADOC reached 1 million Twitter accounts between March 2 and 4, and 131 people used the hashtag to create more than 300 tweets asking questions, making comments and promoting the event. Overall, organizers estimate they answered nearly 100 questions between Facebook and Twitter during the town hall.
"We just got flooded with questions," Davenport said, adding that it was difficult to keep up with the volume.
For future sessions, Davenport hopes to have more people on hand to answer questions.
"We're going to do a better job with that," he said. "Next time, I want more people behind laptops trying to keep up with the volume."
And if you have questions for Davenport that just can't wait until late May, you can contact him directly through his official blog.
Michelle Tan is the editor of Army Times and Air Force Times. She has covered the military for Military Times since 2005, and has embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Haiti, Gabon and the Horn of Africa.